Murray Storms Into Semis

He admitted to periods of feeling flat after battling through his first two matches at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, but Andy Murray showed signs of returning to top form on Friday as he dismissed Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

Murray appeared on the brink of defeat 24 hours earlier, when he trailed Benoit Paire by a set and a double break in the third round. But he fired himself up to turn that match around and was in charge early against Raonic in the first of the quarter-finals on Court Ranier III.

The second-seeded Scot quickly set up a 5-2 lead and broke Raonic again in the eighth game to wrap up the opener. He relinquished just six points on serve and capitalised on a first-serve conversion rate of 37 per cent from Raonic. From there, Murray did not lose another game, taking total control to seal victory in 66 minutes.

“It was really good today,” said Murray. “That’s why matches like yesterday are important. Obviously I didn’t play my best yesterday, or really in the first round either.

“But I fought right the way through. I got a chance today to play better, and I did. I played really well today. Served better. Obviously returned very well against a great server. It was one of my best matches for a while.”

The 28-year-old Murray is through to the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the third time and will look to reach the final here for the first time when he faces Rafael Nadal on Saturday. The Scot fell in the final four in 2009 and 2011 losing to Nadal both times.

Murray is chasing his third clay-court title after a breakthrough season on the dirt in 2015, when he won his first two titles in Munich (d. Kohlschreiber) and Madrid (d. Nadal).

Looking ahead to the semi-final clash with Nadal, Murray said, “[It will be] another really good test. Rafa, especially on this court, he plays great on clay obviously, but on this one in particular, his record is incredible. I think he’s maybe only lost one or two matches in his life here. It’s a great test for me this early on in the clay season.

“I’ll go into the match with confidence having managed to win against him in Madrid on the clay last year, and having played a really good match today. I look forward to it.”

The Dunblane native opened his 2016 campaign with a fifth runner-up showing at the Australian Open, where he beat Raonic in the semi-finals before falling to Novak Djokovic. He did not play in February as he and wife, Kim Sears, welcomed their first child, and struggled to find his top form in March, when he suffered third-round exits in Indian Wells (l. to Delbonis) and Miami (l. to Dimitrov).

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